Monday, August 17, 2009

Janis Joplin: Music's for groovin' [Music Monday]

Middle school and high school were not a comforting time. A lot of you had similar experiences, I'm sure - puberty is rough terrain to navigate, and I wasn't good with directions even before i felt like I lost the map. I wasn't pretty, and wasn't comfortable, and just wasn't fitting in. And no one ever understood - they never do - except for Eleanor Rigby and Janis Joplin.

My dad's copy of Cheap Thrills made it into my discman in ninth or tenth grade. As a child, I was fascinated by the cover - I love comics, and R. Crumb fascinated me. When I first listened to the album, by Janis' breakout band Big Brother and the Holding Company, I knew immediately that this woman understood - she knew what I meant when I felt like I'd never be beautiful. She wasn't a pretty woman, but she was beautiful:

Janis, subconsciously, was as important to the growth of my confidence in college as to the survival of my adolescence. The false bravado of Pearl inspired my own mask of confidence. But my mask, unlike Janis' Pearl, eventually became genuine.

Janis also taught me how not to party and not to live. For the most part, I stayed away from bad lovers and bad drugs, unlike Janis. But one axiom of hers that I took into my partying and concert-going (which are quite often one and the same) continues to instruct:

"Music's for groovin', man. Music's not for puttin yourself through bad changes...if you're gettin' more shit than you deserve, you know what to do about it." - JJ

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